To fill the shoes of our dreams
May we live intimately alongside our fears and create a better dream of the world.
I have always been fearful. As a child I was very alert, and I don’t know what caused me to be so — souls never forget, and perhaps the memory of mine was still too fresh and I knew how much there was to be afraid of.
When I saw Porter Robinson this past weekend I was overcome with a love for our humanness, how very fragile and afraid and vulnerable we are. He held us in a way that said welcome back to the world, I know you’ve been through some shit, and I’m so happy you’re still here. I was so happy to be there. And for the first time in a crowd full of humans I noticed how we were all wearing our vulnerability on our sleeves just by being there — we are fearful animals, and why wouldn’t we be? Why wouldn’t we create these social maps to protect ourselves when our souls have lived through so much?
But if we are here for any reason at all, it must be to bring love back into where it is gone. We cut love off from ourselves so that we may not lose love from others and we cut love off from others out of fear that they may hurt us. But then I think about how a thousand people can find themselves held by love in the arms of a soul who gives so much and I think we can love our way forward.
My friend Lena has a theory that radical, collective empathy is perhaps an evolutionary adaption we’ve developed to survive as a species in this age, and I do not doubt her — because our enemies are no longer just over the hill. We are now prey to ourselves and the strangers across the ocean who we don’t know yet can somehow imagine because of the internet. There are more of us than ever before and perhaps the ability to see not just through the eyes of me or you but through us and our collective humanity is the only way we will save ourselves.
How could we not be afraid, when in some deep part of us we know that our survival depends on all of us?
Many of us live our lives like we’ve forgotten that fact, and for those of us who absorb too much of the world, it becomes quite sad. But in these conversations with Lena, I find myself looking over the world in the same way I do when I paint: through the eyes of the objective and loving creative spirit, looking at the world not just through the limitations of myself and this moment but through a bird’s eye view, feeling it through the invisible threads that connect us all. I know that everything I can touch is but a page in the story and that creativity is the act of giving life to the rest. And here I am not so lost in the troubles of this moment, I can see from far away enough to admire how much we have grown in tens or hundreds or thousands of years and I am amazed by the fact that I can hardly even begin to imagine what we may become. There lies hope, and in our next evolution perhaps we will look something more like trees — grounded and giving, giving oxygen, protection, beauty, belonging — giving life itself to all living beings.
And I realize that I want to be like a mother to this world, that I want to nurture love.
In the face of so much, how can one do enough? I think the egocentric artist is created by the intense need to validate to oneself that this work is worthwhile. But then Porter reminded me that to experience beautiful art, viscerally and lovingly, is to experience a world that is so hopeful already. So I think we need it all, so that we may all find something somewhere that gives us hope.
It seems that radical imagination isn’t so different from radical empathy, so it does not surprise me that to create and experience art is to bend the will of our shared story and write it towards a more beautiful dream. And the more I set my imagination ablaze, the more I will have to ask myself to give to that vision. And I begin to understand even more so that to be creative is to live intimately alongside fear, and I think that maybe I can live with that, since I have — and we all have — been doing it all along.
There are, however, times when the fear overwhelms me. To feel so unbearably open to the holy is to be open to our deepest fears. In the past few days I have finally been still enough to allow my dreams to rain down on me, and I realized that I had been making my dreams smaller so that I may stand a greater chance of filling their shoes. Now, faced with the desire to give so much more, I realize that I must ask myself to fill bigger shoes.
But, as I’ve said, I have already done so much that scares me. Two weekends ago, I shared my work with a little pocket of the world at The Other Art Fair in LA. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to tell you about the dreams, the moments of synchrony, the indecision, the magic of invention, the self doubt, the shame, and the love that have all birthed the bloom of these languages. This body of work was born with my own ability to recognize that we are one, and that creating and witnessing art becomes an act of worship when we can leave the solipsistic experience of our awareness and enter the all encompassing experience of oneness.
I’m scared that I will never be able to do enough. The magnitude of experiencing life might just be the art itself — and my fear is that I may never create anything to do it justice. What am I doing here? There is so much to do. But perhaps that isn’t the right question at all — perhaps our job is simply to allow ourselves to experience it all.